Q&A: Sony Europe's Jonathan Fargher

GameSpot met up with Sony's senior PR manager to get all the juicy details ahead of the PlayStation 3's official UK arrival.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Jonathan Fargher at the official UK PS3 launch.

Sony's PlayStation 3 finally launches in Europe tonight, and in the UK the official Sony event is taking place at the Virgin Megastore on London's Oxford Street. With mere hours until the 12 a.m. launch, GameSpot spoke to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Jonathan Fargher about what consumers can expect from the official event, as well as freebies, backward compatibility, and Home.

GameSpot UK: Tell us a little bit about what's happening tonight.

Jonathan Fargher: Ultimately, tonight's focus is going to be consumers, so tonight consumers are welcome to come down and collect the machine that they've preordered. We'll be laying on food for them, laying on drinks for them, and making sure that they're very well looked after. We'll make sure that those that have preordered a PlayStation 3 will make it home safely, so like we say, it's very consumer focussed. You're not going to see any celebrities down here, it's not really PlayStation's style. We acknowledge the extra time that some people have spent down here, and we want to repay their loyalty and their patience and really just look after them... There's going to be activity in-store like live DJs, but we're just wanting to make sure we're looking after the people who are waiting.

GSUK: The first people started appearing down here yesterday afternoon...

JF: Yeah, I believe the were a couple of people down here yesterday afternoon. [Virgin] have a system in place where you can come down, you can get a wristband, and you can then go off and get something to eat.

GSUK: Can people who haven't preordered come down here tonight and buy a PlayStation 3?

JF: Yeah, if you want to come down here then you can do that.

GSUK: Is it likely that they're going to sell out?

JF: To be honest, you'll have to speak to Virgin about that, I don't know what their allocation is for this store. Again, the main reason to delay the launch in Europe, apart from it being a logistical issue, was that we wanted to be in a situation where there would be a lot of machines on day one. That's both for Europe and on a UK level. We're almost in a lose-lose situation--if we sell out on day one, then people will ask why we couldn't possibly have met demand, and that we should have been aware of the high demand for the machine. But if we don't sell out on day one because we've put steps in place to make sure that there's a steady stream of stock into retail, there's a large number of units on day one, then people will question why we haven't sold out. You know, this time around with 1 million machines for Europe and slightly more than 220,000 units for the UK means that there have been an exceptional number of preorders. You only have to speak to the retailers and they will say that demand and the order level for PlayStation 3 has been phenomenal and far and away their most successful hardware launch. We want to be in a situation where people can preorder their machines, but there will certainly be stock left. We want to be in the position where if you go into a store tomorrow, you will be able to pick up a machine off the shelf. It doesn't make good business sense from a commercial point of view or for retailers if consumers can't come into a store and buy a PlayStation 3.

GSUK: What about the follow-up supply, are there plenty of PlayStation 3s coming into Europe?

JF: Absolutely, from a UK point of view there are going to be shipments coming in on a weekly basis. Wherever possible, we're going to do everything we can to make sure there's not a boom-and-bust scenario where, dare I say it, even our own hardware launches have been [in the past]. Instead of a consumer coming into a store tomorrow or in a couple of days' time and not being able to get hold of a PlayStation 3, they're going to be in a position where they can get their hands on one hopefully. That's a bonus for retailers and a bonus for us.

GSUK: Virgin Megastores are associated with games but they're not a specialist--how did you decide to partner up with them for the official launch of the PS3?

JF: Virgin as a store offers a wide range of multimedia ranges, with CDs, DVDs, [and] Blu-ray, and I think that's a perfect fit for the PlayStation 3. We're very much pushing it as a broad entertainment device, and by partnering up with a retail partner that's well known for that sort of content, I think [it] works very well.

GSUK: There have been some issues surrounding the launch of the PS3 in other territories [such as violence and muggings]...

JF: We've worked very closely with Westminster Council and the Metropolitan Police to make sure that there's no queuing on the streets, and that people are well looked after and out of the elements. Obviously, it's an expensive piece of hardware and we've asked people to make sure they use common sense. Don't travel by yourself, and make sure you know how you're getting home.

GSUK: Are there any incentives for consumers buying the console early?

JF: I believe that they're going to get a free copy of Resistance: Fall of Man...is this going up tonight?

GSUK: It depends how quickly we can write it!

JF: Er...they're going to get a free Blu-Ray disc [and] a copy of Resistance, and I'm sure Virgin have a few bits and pieces and goodies lined up for them as well.

GSUK: A number of third-party games such as Oblivion and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 have missed the UK launch this week. Do you care to make a comment on that?

JF: I can't comment on third-party development really, but it's obviously an unfortunate situation and we would have liked to have all of those big intellectual properties at launch, and it's an unfortunate situation of development really.

GSUK: When people get home tonight they're going to be expecting the firmware update, so is that going to be available?

JF: [They'll have] 1.6 firmware available from day one, which means that they'll have access to 1,700 PlayStation 2 titles out of the box. The 1.6 firmware update also allows for background downloading from the network store, and also includes something called Folding@home, which is the software that we've worked on in conjunction with Stanford University, so there are a number of key features that will be in the 1.6 update.

GSUK: There's some confusion over your terminology for backward compatibility. What do "minor" and "noticeable" issues actually mean?

JF: I can't expand on that, but on day one we've tried to make sure that as many PlayStation 2 titles are compatible as possible. That said, backward compatibilty is and will continue to be an important focus for us. The software engineers that have managed to make 1,700 titles will continue to work to a solution where as close to 100 percent of those titles will work [on PlayStation 3] with as few issues as possible.

GSUK: One of the big new features for the machine is that it's region-free for software, so can we expect first-party Sony titles to be released simultaneously worldwide?

JF: I certainly hope so. One of the advantages of software going region-free is that consumers have more choice, and it also means that gone are the days where you'd see a title released in America or Japan and then you'd have to wait six months for it to appear in the UK. If anything, it puts more pressure on us to make worldwide release schedules much closer on a territory-by-territory basis. Another thing that Blu-ray has allowed us to do is include multiple languages on one disc, so that's an added bonus as well. The network store will offer consumers a broad range of content, whether it be movie content, trailers, and downloadable games like flOw, almost instantaneously.

GSUK: One of Sony's big recent announcements was Home--is that going to be coming to Europe as well?

JF: It is, and it's set for release this year around October or November time. At the moment, we're doing a closed trial, and that will continue to extend and expand as we get closer to launch. Ultimately, it will be made available via firmware update, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It's a very "PlayStation" way of bringing together all of the elements of the xross media bar--photos, music, video, and games into one place, and I think Home will do that very, very well.

GSUK: Thanks for that, Jonathan.

Note: According to Sony's public relations department, 650 units have been made available at the official Sony Virgin Megastore launch on London's Oxford Street.

Written By

Want the latest news about Resistance: Fall of Man?

Resistance: Fall of Man

Resistance: Fall of Man

Discussion

38 comments
KingOfTheNubeis
KingOfTheNubeis

Well at least you can buy it everywere,All the shops down my way.south London still have loads on the shelfs.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

Sony you pratt's, next time around don't treat European consumers like dirt !!!

xElite_GameRx
xElite_GameRx

I have no problem with the backwards compatibility, my PS2 games run perfectly. Where I live the PS3 is sold out everywhere that my friends have resorted to paying thousands on ebay. They would love to trade places with someone in another state who claims the PS3 is overstocked

ianstone01
ianstone01

Let see how they get on with the backwards compatibility issue.........we all know that Sony are true to their word!!! LOL.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

This Jonathan Fargher guy seems a little ignorant of the reasons the PS3 is doing well right now.

mirlegend
mirlegend

they better fix the bc games that are in a state aswell as adding the rest.

furqan2006
furqan2006

maybe now they can increase their sales of ps3

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

I dont think the PS3 flopped, but the price and the loss of exclusive games has hurt the PS branding, no matter whatever type of fanboy says the PS3 is very expensive for a games console, Blu-ray is no seller of a system like the DVD player in the PS2 was, thats the problem sony has to face up to, how do you get a mum and dad to pay that sort of money for a games console when the 360 is £150 cheaper and has lots of the same games on it or a Wii thats £250 cheaper and looks like a lot of fun that the parents can get involved in as well. As a hardcore gamer I've not missed a console launch since I got an Atari 2600 as an Xmas present in 1978, but I'd not pay £425 for a games console, I'm the demographic that Sony is aiming for, buys loads of games has money to burn. But at that price its not worth it. I'm lucky that I get to go on Business to Japan once in a while (I work for Honda), so I bought my PS3 for £260 in Tokyo 3 months ago, So how come the PS3 is £260 in Japan and £425 in Europe, Japanese wages are higher than European wages, Shipping dont cost £165 a time. We are ripped off in europe all the time and we let them do it. I paid £179 for my Wii, its £120 in Japan,the 360 is £280 in the UK and around £220 in the US, so thats about a £60 difference both times, ok I can live with that, but a £165 difference, do Sony think europeans are stupid? Yes they do and you know what, people actually paying £425 for the system are proving them right.

zsc4
zsc4

This is the most publicity the PS3 as got, well in a good way that is :P

asammw345
asammw345

Its a sad day when a company like Sony has to resort to bribery.... and err.... what about everyone else who doesnt live anywhere near that store? Giving away all the free stuff where they can get the publicity, right where the video cameras are..... how valiant of them.... (note the sarcasm)

dante77_virgil
dante77_virgil

This is the Best thing Which happened to PS3. I'm sure that now people will start buying the console for a change.

adam2987
adam2987

"they're going to get a free Blu-Ray disc, a copy of Resistance and I'm sure Virgin have a few bits and pieces and goodies lined up for them as well." "and we want to repay their loyalty and their patience and really just look after them..." Yeah but what about us loyal fans who ordered over the internet! We don't get any bonuses or extra stuff from Sony for waiting 4 months more than US and Japan, losing PS2 compatability and the extra large price tag. All things said I'm glad I'm getting one on launch day.

Lord_Artix
Lord_Artix

Wow...I can honestly say that they're actually doing some right with the PS3 now.

willerdrew
willerdrew

and people say they dont have loyalte!!

R-Force
R-Force

This is so cool! PS3 rocks.

DarkVenom
DarkVenom

Good stuff by sony,giving stuff away. i am happy with them =)

Redfingers
Redfingers

"they're going to get a free Blu-Ray disc, a copy of Resistance and I'm sure Virgin have a few bits and pieces and goodies lined up for them as well." Hey, man, that's a nice bit of schwag. I think that the EU release will be a stupendous success, which is, of course, a godsend. There is no reason to bash the PS3 here. It is providing everything necessary for a successful launch and has rid itself of a terrible logistics curse that has plagued every big hardware launch since the olden days. Again, it's absolutely and terribly unfortunate that third-parties are having such a ridiculous inability towards getting these titles out on time...basically, in one region, on one platform.

JusticeCovert
JusticeCovert

reya10276: It means that, probably after this interview was conducted, we learned from SCEE's UK PR department that there will be 650 consoles available at the launch event. In the main text of the interview, Jonathan clearly statesd that he didn't personally know how many there were going to be.

TorugotoShinsan
TorugotoShinsan

It's nice to see that Sony has finally taken it's time and got things ready for th European launch. Hopefully it will be nowhere near as chaotic as the US launch. Thanks to Murphy's Law it might be a little optimistic to say that things will get better for Sony but it can't hurt to be hopeful. That being said I won't be buying a PS3 until next year. We pay way too much for consoles in Europe (as a comparison the 360 costs the same as an American PS3 in the UK) and so it really isn't worth buying a PS3 yet.

snukadaman
snukadaman

dam...got too say they are trying ....giving a free copy of a game like resistance......on the other hand knowing that not alot of uk peeps are interested and throwing them a bone like that might peak interest

RiceCake
RiceCake

Thats just a lot of good news :D

reya10276
reya10276

Note: According to Sony's Public Relations department, 650 units have been made available at the official Sony Virgin Megastore launch on London's Oxford Street. WTF does this mean??

sascha23
sascha23

Sony's internal communication issues have definitely improved. Everyone seems to be on the same page where when it launched it was kinda all over the place. Once again, cool beans to the UK kids!

Darkiewonder
Darkiewonder

Damn. they get free movies and games. I was hoping for a free phone xD

blacktorn
blacktorn

I can't believe the ps3 is almost upon us,back in 2005 when i first saw the ps3 at e3 '05 i was amazed by the ps3,i couldn't wait to get my hands on it,but then time and time again Sony screwed every thing up,delays,price inflation,no rumble,graphics that don't even match 360 never mind those pre-rendered trailers. If only Sony could of not lied and got everything right,then we might off had a ps2 situation again. Oh well that's Sony's fault and Microsoft are more than making up for Sony's "short comings".

luke_wj
luke_wj

Nice one gamespot. Coverage like this excellent as usual.

humptygrumpty
humptygrumpty

i hope those who hav put the effort in2 going hav a good time and get what they want without any of this violence crap

the_real_VIP
the_real_VIP

They're making sure that close to 100% of PS2 games will later be PS3 compatible.

Samurai_Budgie
Samurai_Budgie

Pretty neat that Resistance is coming free. Makes £425 easier to cough up.

tobenator
tobenator

Good for them. Hope they get all the stuff sold they wanted to.

SoulKillah
SoulKillah

Pretty long interview...but really intersting:D